Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1571 ..
MR QUINLAN: Yes, thank you, Mr Hargreaves. I think it is important now that I at least detail to the Assembly the series of events that has taken place in relation to the Australian International Hotel School, which has been the subject of some political discussion. Members will recall that, fairly early in the period of this government, I commissioned a commission of audit to look at a number of enterprises in which the government was involved. That included the Australian International Hotel School.
The conclusions of that commission of audit were not strong, so there has been since that time, a review of the school-from the school's operational perspective rather than as an external audit-which came up with some conclusions, including that it may possibly survive if amalgamated with the University of Canberra or Canberra Institute of Technology.
I also met with the board some months ago with a view to getting their opinion. They committed to setting out a business plan in order to advise government as to what was necessary to make that school viable. They were quite clearly the ones with the most intimate knowledge to put that business plan together. I also set up an interdepartmental working party to review all of the objectives and plans and to objectively assess the school.
At the end of the day, the board of the Australian International Hotel School believes that it is capable of survival, but the interdepartmental working party identified that that proposition carried with it considerable risk, and more risk than I think a government ought to be involved in, particularly as there didn't seem to be much genuine up-side. It is one of those things that I think was really something that offered the town prospects in the first instance, but that was never realised.
In recent times, I had discussions with the board representatives with a view to advising them that the government wanted to phase out funding of that school because we really could not continue to justify the flow of taxpayers' funds to it. I agreed with the board that it would go away and work through all of the options, and there are many options available for the school itself or for the students and staff therein. The government is concerned and remains concerned that the moral obligations and the contractual obligations that we have to students and staff are exercised to the full.
There are some people involved here. It is one of those processes we might not like but it is very difficult to undo, so I did in fact agree with the board that it could work through the proposal that the government would wind down funding on the school and that the board would, with its expertise, consider all of the options for the school and get back to me.
MR HARGREAVES: Can the Treasurer please advise the house of the status of the students currently enrolled in courses at that school?
MR QUINLAN: Of course we have a contractual obligation. As fate would have it, some of those students are doing exams this week. I want to register, Mr Speaker, my extreme disappointment that this information in relation to the hotel school was leaked to